Run Tata Run

87 Comments

Goodbye. Tata. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehn. Goodnight.
Adieu. Adieu. To you. And you. And you.

Vamoose Mera Anmolya “Ratan”. Don’t forget to carry your ugly industrialist designs with you. And please take along Infosys and others with you too. We don’t need your kind here. Didn’t you hear what we just said? Adieu. To you and you and you.

Because we are Bengalis. We hate industrial development. As a matter of fact, we hate industry. Please leave us to our farming and poverty———after all if we don’t have that how will Mrinal Sen, Utpalendu Chatterjee and assorted true-Marxist (as opposed to the bourgeoisie-loving Buddha-babu’s CPM), unwashed-since-Trotsky’s-purge film-makers and “theater-workers” find their subjects?

What will the art college drop-outs, Charminar-smoking modern poets and apprentice pickpockets argue about over tea? What will Aparna Sen and her other cohorts in “Citizen’s Initiatives” talk on their cell-phones about while clutching their vanity bags and their designer shawls? What will Kabir Suman or is it Babur Suman….I keep forgetting….sing and rant about? What will the glorious intellectuals from Jadavpur University and Presidency, with Che Guevara and Fidel “35,000″ women” Castro as their profile pictures, fight over on Orkut communities?

What indeed.

You see, taking away chronic poverty from us is like taking away our hilsa fish. Or taking away Rupa Ganguly. I mean this isn’t Gujarat or Maharashtra. There even when there is opposition to industry, there is room for negotiation. There is room for things like “better deals”. Realizable solutions.

But then again, this is not Gujarat or Maharashtra.

Which means no compromise.

Or as our intellectuals would say “No passaran”.

Not that we Bengalis are an unyielding people. We most certainly are not. On most matters, we roll over and clutch our Gitobitaans and start singing “Aaj kon aalo laaglo chokhe”.

But when it comes to industry and shorsher tel (mustard oil), paraphrasing William Wallace in “Braveheart” —they may take away our afternoon naps but they will never take our ……ability to drive away industries.

Of course now with Singur almost gone (even though the Tatas have started rolling out the machinery and the CPM government offering another Pujo package), Bengal will be facing a new challenge. No not unemployment, flight of jobs and economic stagnation. That we do face but it’s definitely not a challenge. After all there is always “jibonmukhi” gaan and Singi-maacher jhol to keep us company.

The challenge is different: “what shall we now struggle against?”

As Manomohan Dutta in Satyajit Ray’s “Agantuk” says:

Bangalir oti priyo sobdo. Struggle. [The favorite word of Bengalis is "struggle"]

There are of course some Bangalis who do struggle, in a different way, when industries leave the state. I once read about a town in West Bengal which used to have a number of engineering factories. All of which, in the height of CITU trade unionism, were shut down. The town became a ghost of itself with most people leaving it for other pastures. The story I read was about one man, who for decades would show up to work, on time, and stand in front of the closed factory gate waiting for it to open. Hoping every day that today would be the day when good sense dawns on all and he gets his job back. It never happened.

The problem with this guy was that for some bizarre reason, perhaps because he had nothing else, he had hope. Which in Mamata-devi’s Bangla is perhaps the most dangerous thing to have.

Did I just mention Mamata “Bandh”opadhyaya, the Trinamool supremo and the undisputed lioness of Bengal? The Singur Andolon has truly been her finest hour edging out that marvelous moment when she had sounded the death knell of CPM rule by ringing a gong in Central Kolkata. Verily, this is a knock-out victory for Didi—rarely has her 24 hour rail-rokos and her serial bandhs caused so much damage in one-go for the state than the 80,000 crore loss the closing down of the Nano project will lead to. [ Incidentally, for those who do not know, Trinamool Congress measures their success solely by the economic damage it can cause West Bengal.] If there is anything that shows that Mamata-di is now ready to lead, it has been her consistently demonstrated ability to totally paralyze the state.

Some accuse our peaceful agitators of physically attacking Tata workers at Singur and of blocking the Durgapur Highway and causing untold misery for people. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Becharam Manna of TMC explains:

Trinamool leader in Singur, Becharam Manna, denied intimidation saying “the workers have been urged to leave the factory on their own to express solidarity with us.”

Of course this “urging” may have been rather aggressive but then again as any Naxal-turned-cricket mom-dad intellectual who in the 70s tried to convert Bengal into Cambodia and now lead their lives as professors angling for World Bank funding would tell you—-what’s a revolution, even a Jaipan mixer grinder revolution (remember the ad: We want revolution, Jaipan revolution) without some chopped capitalist liver?

When Bengal started attracting foreign investment a few years ago, I was shocked. And positively uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right—like when Sourav Ganguly swishes outside the off-stump or when Bappi Lahiri does not wear his jewelery .

But now it seems the order of things just might again been restored.

Caption: Take that Tata !

And for that let us all congratulate Mamata-di, the brave follower of the legendary Leoni Das of yore, who with a band of three hundred Bangalis, all wearing Gallop Hawai chappals , pushed back an entire army of capitalists while shouting to the skies.

This is Banglaaaaaaaaaa !!!

[More serious posts on same/related topics here and here and here]

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87 thoughts on “Run Tata Run

  1. a very very superficial post, without delving deep into the real problem. it might have aroused humour, but scarcely touched upon the heart of the matter. Sorry Arnab, I beg to differ…

  2. What was that IPL Kolkata Knight Riders song again…Korbo, Lorbo, Jeeto?? Fun, fun, fun with the entire irony!!

    Btw, I think there has been a virus attacking all govts, from the West to the East and the mandate of the virus was to throw away taxpayers’ money, secede development and in general, cause mayhem within the masses!

    80,000 crore…hmm, I think it’s time to throw the Didi out!

  3. @Souva, This post was not meant to be an analysis. I dont know if you saw them— but I had links to older posts of mine at the bottom of the post. There this problem is discussed in detail.

  4. @ GB : Excellent Satire. I’m spellbound.

    @ Souva :
    a very very superficial comment, without delving deep into the whole post. It might have tried in vain to make some useless point, but scarcely touched upon the heart of the matter. Sorry Souva, majority of us beg to differ

  5. ROTFL @ “This is banglaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

    well, on a serious note, I am no fan on LEFT, but I think for bangla people, the task this time around might be to choose “the lesser evil”

  6. step1: another one of those big-bong humor laced sarcasm spewing posts
    step2: 140 people comment, some claiming i-pods,some (with 33 views since 2001) trying to get their blogs on ppl’s reading lists, most frequent comment “GB/Arnabda you have outdid urself again”.
    step3: time for the next post, ok this time its bhajji coming clean
    step4: rinse and repeat.

    LOL at those who are even attempting to start a moral discussion on a blog post. Oh and did the blogger attempt and proudly point out a note of seriousness in the post as well —-> Arnabda/GB you have outdid yourself again. Step aside kabir suman, this is the age of jibonmukhi blog-abhijans.

  7. The factoid about Fidel Castro reminds me of a popular Bengali idiom:

    “Kana chele-r naam padmalochan”

    He should change his name to Infidel Castro.

    I once read that the famous Genghis Khan was also a prolific lover, and traces of his DNA can be found in approximately 0.5% of the male population of the entire world. I wonder how many young Cubans share DNA with the big boss.

    Sorry about going on a tangent here. The real issue is hopeless.

  8. The 300 reference really freaked me out. It’s exactly 3 in the morning, and I finished a re-watch of 300.

    I wonder at the leverage Mamta got this time.

  9. I could feel that you are angry and despite sitting far away from your home, you expressed your anger through this good post. I am feeling the same anger too and like you I am also far away from Kolkata. The first thought that came to my mind following this entire fiasco was “will I ever be able to work in Kolkata – my home town?” I think the answer is No – since some people (whom apparently “we” elect and who have turned democractic system into a farce) belonging to different political parties have turned Kolkata into a city where people cannot even hope to earn. Soon, the city may even lose its much acclaimed “metro” status despite the new found fascination towards malls, multiplexes. As far as West Bengal is concerned, the future that I see is shocking and it scares me. The people who have been made the pawns in this entire fight for power (the poor peasants) will continue to be in perpetual darkness (as I am sure none actually wanted them to be better anyway as that would mean there would not be any “issue” to fight on) and the others who call themselves educated would be restricted to raising storms in the tea-cups over Mamata and Buddhadeb babu like they do on Sourav, Aneek and others. A huge number of people will be like us who would get frustated. At the end of the day, even the most optimist of them lot would struggle to paint a beautiful picture.

    I have always failed to understand, how an entire state always pays a price because of ideologies (and that too I doubt whether they were honest ideologies to start with)and that is despite having comprised of people who take pride in their “educated status”.

    I do not know whether there is a way to uplift the status of my state. On one hand, I feel sad that I had to run away from it some years back in order to be recognised for my abilities and on the other in a very selfish way I feel perhaps I am privileged that I could move out for the time being.

    I am sure Mamata with this act of hers would get the status of social activist and also get lot of votes (surprisingly she gets voted from the heart of Kolkata – I wonder what goes on in a mind of a Mamata voter in city – perhaps you can write a post on that by making a fictitious trip inside a Mamata voter’s mind?) but the real issue would still remain. Peasants in WB shall still remain poor and lead a life either scared of CPM cadres or TMC goons and professionals will flee away!

    Regards

  10. It is really sad, as you put it, to find the anti-CPM agenda translating into this moronic and brilliantly stupid way of driving away progress. I feel and share your bitterness in the sarcasm. And I also feel helpless sitting so far away where I can do nothing but see and read on blogs and newspapers. What is the way out?

  11. I think Didi has sounded the death knell not just for CPM but for West Bengal as well. Trinamool – Grassroots, the aptly named party will now lead West Bengal backwards to the grassroots.

    What irks me most is her unrelenting nature. She not only does not want a win-win situation. She demands a win-lose situation. She thinks this is her last God-given chance to usurp the “Godi”.

  12. I understand that this one is not really a serious analysis of the matter. But, as I urge almost everybody nowadays, I urge you too:
    Read Shape of the Beast by Arundhati Roy . . . I think your perception of political deals and industrial negotiations will change.

  13. I dont exactly agree with GB on this post. While i can see that this particular episode will cause a little bit of a flutter with some of the newer investments in Bengal, I dont think that this will tarnish the image any more or less than what the left front has successfully done over the last 30 – 35 years.
    Putting up a Nano plant doesnt neccessarily improve the image of a city or a state when every small incident can lead to a “brigade chalo” by political parties (left or hugely left). Any state capital (and i dont think Calcutta deserves to be called a Metro anymore, except perhaps for the population) that records the same number of bandhs sponsored by the State Government will not be attractive to any investor, Nano plant regardless.
    The good thing about this step is that in future the government will be a little more careful about its policies towards industrialization and not take a dictatorial approach towards things. All these problems could have been avoided if the Government had kept itself out of the finances and contracts pertaining to the project – welcome Tata to the state, provide the VAT and cess exemptions, provide the soft loans, but do not get involved in buying land on behalf of the company. Let the organization and the land owner decide the best acceptable price and close the deal.
    I hate to see CPIM taking a moral high ground and blaming TMC for destroying industry in the state. CPIM has not only destroyed industry, but agriculture, governance and discipline along with it over the last three decades.

  14. Great sarcasm… share your angst totally. I wonder how ‘didi’ will feel five years hence, while passing by the boundary walls of the then-deserted Nano factory. Will she feel proud of her achievement, or guilty, albeit secretly?

  15. @ Anando

    On what basis have you decided that the Tata exit will only cause a ‘little flutter’? Or how do you think a Nano plant will NOT improve the image of a state?

    It most definitely will. There are no 2 ways about that. Do you think the Bajaj’s or the Ambanis or any foreign investor will jump at an opportunity to invest in the state now? It’s not peanuts we are talking of here. Its Billions of Dollars. Do you think anyone in his right mind would risk a Billion Dollars? For that matter I don’t think Ratan Tata was in his his right mind either.

  16. Don’t want to start a long comment on the geo-political opinions of mine about this issue again. But, seriously, a really nice post with great humor. And the resemblance cited with the 300 snaps is the best part for me.

  17. @omgparishilton

    There are people who love pepsi for the quick refreshing change it provides and appreciate its value.

    Then there are cynics who also “actually” appreciate pepsi but prefer to call it a “puddle of black pee” so that they can stand out from the crowd. So you know yourself which category you fall in to

    As an aside , I realise you have linked your blog in your nick as well , so how many views have you had ,hmmm lemme guess 3 ??

  18. Thanks Great Bong for this piece. I could relate to the pathos – pity people see superficiality in this post, not the antics of the so called activists trying to fight for justice (whose???)

    Tagore’s gone, Vidyasagar’s gone, Ray’s gone, Ghatak’s gone and so many others of similar stature are either gone or past their prime -

    But shonar bangla – don’t grieve, you have didi and her ilk bidding TATA to matters of grave concern – precisely why digging a grave!

    And you speak of Maharashtra – the scene is the same, just that the local nuisance here is (fortunately) impotent and rustic – oblivious of trade, industry and finance matters – they thrash cabbies and vegetable vendors for the sake of some son-of-the-soil security – while several sons of the soil prefer the comfort zone of a clerical job.They want to rise ….but not on the wings of enterprise.

  19. hanks Great Bong for this piece. I could relate to the pathos – pity people see superficiality in this post, not the antics of the so called activists trying to fight for justice (whose???)

    Tagore’s gone, Vidyasagar’s gone, Ray’s gone, Ghatak’s gone and so many others of similar stature are either gone or past their prime -

    But shonar bangla – don’t grieve, you have didi and her ilk bidding TATA to matters of grave concern – precisely why digging a grave!

    And you speak of Maharashtra – the scene is the same, just that the local nuisance here is (fortunately) impotent and rustic – oblivious of trade, industry and finance matters – they thrash cabbies and vegetable vendors for the sake of some son-of-the-soil security – while several sons of the soil prefer the comfort zone of a clerical job.They want to rise ….but not on the wings of enterprise.

  20. Irony is that, the bengali people who support far left in internet communities, ( and thus bicker about Tata, Singur, USA etc….many of them even blamed US for the recent bomb blasts in India) are mostly ( at least 90%, my observation) are those who are cooling their heels in the safe cocoon of US universities, reaping rewards of capitalism’s externalities

  21. Good riddance. Industry is highly overrated.

    industry: diligence in an employment or pursuit

    Diligence is the last resort of the stupid. We are too intelligent to need industry.

  22. Politicians of a state would be as good as the citizens. Why is there an environment which will help these kind of people to flourish? Its afterall people’s(those who are electorally relevant) wish that they are fulfilling. But the thing with Bengal is that it doesnt matter if you are electorally relevant or irrelevant. Because anyways you dont have choice but to vote for the LEFT. Otherwise how could you explain the fact that the same party is heading the state for so long and in such a miserable way? The problem is within. People in bengal are so averse to change that they are solely responsible for their plight. And those who understand this dont live in bengal. Catch 22 situation.

  23. “The story I read was about one man, who for decades would show up to work, on time, and stand in front of the closed factory gate waiting for it to open. Hoping every day …”

    I get a lot of applications from BTech Engineers looking for jobs and even settling to do data entry work…They should give dharna outside mamta di’s home…and remember sacrifices have to be made…remember the sacrifice jammu poet gave ..which started amarnath struggle. Fight back against petty politics! (I believe everyone saw mamta di performing namaz..wasn’t that a political stunt ?)

  24. I ran away from Calcutta fifteen years ago, and settled down in Delhi. I’ve never regretted it. In fact, on my occasional brief visits to Calcutta, I find myself in a near constant state of rage, frustration and nausea. I still get goosebumps of fear whenever I see Jyoti Basu on national TV (“The Mummy Returns!”). It looks like the current bunch have managed the nigh inconceivable feat of surpassing the old goat.

    I will say one thing though. Didi may not be as stupid as she looks. In my youth, I remember my mesho-moshais, mamas, jamai-babus and pisheys complaining about how Calcutta votes Congress, but all the damned villagers vote CPM, and that’s why the CPM never gave a damn about urban issues.

    So does she really give 2 hoots what Calcutta thinks? I’m assuming most of the concern about industrialisation etc. would be in the big city, not so much in villages.

    If that is so, she has probably strengthened her appeal in rural Bengal, and who cares about the consequences to the state.

    On the other hand, after over thirty years, perhaps the true picture of what all these people have done to the state has trickled down to the grassroots. In which case Didi’s strategy — not so hot. The next election should be interesting, provided the Red Army doesn’t steal it.

  25. Well, Nano is not just a car… its a technology ! And its not just us, a lot of ppl in the western world have been waiting for this piece of technology to come out … some with more enthusiasm than us.
    So why would the Nano project leaving Bengal cause just a ‘minor flutter’ ?
    Mebbe CPM actually screwed industry in Bengal for all these decades … but just as they were beginning to change certain things, you have Mamata di come out and imitate CPM of the yore !
    To all those who think its not so bad for Bengal that Nano’s out of there .. let me tell you dear friends, I am not a Bengali. None of my friends are Bengalis. And we are normal ppl …. But we exclaim with so much anguish that Bengal has probably blown up a huge opportunity here. And i am sure a lot of investors out there are thinking the same.

    Maybe the state govt did indulge in high handedness while chalking out the deal.
    But was the solution to chase Tatas out of Bengal ?

  26. @GREATBONG:

    Yes, I overlooked those links, and am sorry for that. But you know what, the problem is actually manifold. The first layer of the problem is within the CPI-M itself. The baggage of Marxist ideology is now hindering their Pro-Capitalist agenda by way of self-contradiction within the party-machinery. Secondly, due to uneven spread of Education in the state, the “development” for the urban educated people is inherently exclusive of the scantily-educated rural mass; so a process of alienation is making the later scared as they can’t identify themselves within that rosy picture of “developed West Bengal”. And, curiously, CPI-M, so proud of its rural base, has done nothing to ward off that uncertainty. And thirdly, the vote-driven psychology of the politicians is the main hindrance of the state’s development. As a marketing guy, you know all too well the segmenting-targetting-positioning trio. Under Buddhababu’s aegis has started to re-brand itself for the urban middle-class, thinking that its rural base will remain intact. But, Mamata has lost no time to grab the opportunity and increase her market share in that currently unattended market. So, a fierce competitive battle is being fought by these two parties– a fight for gaining and retaining market share (that is, number of votes).

  27. Why blame Mamta or the TMC – it is the people who fail to realise what’s good for them and what’s not, she couldn’t have done it with the supporters. If we the people are going to blindly follow the politicans then we have to suffer the consequences as well.

  28. Anando has hit the nail on its head.

    Take away the ano, and CPM has done so much to discredit WB, that nano will go down another of those in the history. CPM still sponsors Rasta Roko at the slightest of pretext. the still call for All Bengal Bharat bandh almost quarterly. As recent as on 20th August 2008, they have successfully managed to organize an All Bengal Bharat Bandh, against US Imperialism!!!!

    Just follow another similar but low-profile story of a German retail company called Metro. Left front partners are actually bullying them out of WB. Reliance Fresh has been driven out, again by LF, several days ago.

    Mamata, another gonoshotru, is just paying them back by their own coin.

    People will point out Sector-V. But it is much ado about a regular thing. People in Calcutta usually are Kupamanduks due to low inward immigration, and that is why they go ga-ga over sector-V. Pune and Hyderabad, non-metros, each have more than one places similar or bigger than sector-5.

    The two things that Bengalis have gained over the years are impatience and rudeness ( what we call “awaz dewa”). Earlier thins month I visited my hometown and then Calcutta. In Calcutta I extensively used Metro rail and trains in Sealdaha- Bongaon line. In both the systems I have bought tickets from several stations, and I have never experienced a queue where some people are not abusing the booking clerk for being slow ( people giving “awaz” to booking clerk). And I have seen that even so early as 6:30 am, when queues were literally very small and there was at least 10 minutes for the train to arrive. This came across starkly, since I am using Mumbai local trains almost daily for the last 5 years and have rarely experienced this “awaz dewa” and abusing business.

    And about West Bengal, from where I come and which is not inside Calcutta, less said the better.

  29. What happens now to the farmers who sold (i.e. got compensated) their land? They give the money back? And their land becomes cultivable again, after TATAs have removed the sheds/permanent structures and gone?

  30. I remember when I was in TCS training, our base branches were being announced and NO ONE wanted to go to Kolkata! One girl shrieked loud when her base branch was announced as Kolkata.

    Because going there meant being there, since no other companies are there you cant switch and you cant go to attend interviews!

  31. It seems like most readers here are against the Tatas leaving the state. I will be surprised if not even one of you are a registered voter from the South Cal constituency. Why don’t you reply back with the ballot….huh ….NRIs can always register at the consulate and vote….. in case you didn’t know that.

  32. All is not hopeless. Bardhaman district for instance, is a totally different story. The Asansol-Durgapur industrial belt is booming, lots of investment has poured in, and the local politicos are shrewd enough to not do anything to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    I’m sure if the likes of Madame Bandh-opadhyay try to foment trouble in the area, she’d be taught a lesson she is unlikely to forget in a hurry. People there are well and truly fed up of trade unions and seriously want to let life go on. And this include die-hard lifelong CPM voters.

    But of course, what the CPM was trying to do was to spread industrial development around more evenly, and that didn’t work out so well. Perhaps Purulia would have been a better choice? Pockets there are controlled by the Jharkand Mukti Morcha, I doubt TMC could have caused too much trouble there. Or even Western Midnapore, which is also partly JMM controlled.

    Singur was too close to Cal, and its only in Cal and surrounding areas that Mamata has the clout to pull off what she eventually managed to do. The woman represents the worst ills of Bengali society – headstrong, parochial, resistant to change, and the nastiest kind of attention whorism.

  33. Well Run you and you and you too and what!! make this a barren land. why should we complain about India not being developed when we don’t want it to be developed. The non-industrialization of WB merely blocks the industrialization of many North Eastern Lands. May be they are having certain other issues like terrorism and all but all it needs is a headstart….And why do people complain that there are no jobs wen we ourselves are closing down the way of creating jobs….. The creation of the TATA plant would helped create another TATA nagar, with schools for children, jobs for the young, places for people to live, employment, social awareness and they say that TATA has to leave… Then i think we should stop complaining about about job scarcity, development of the state and things like that and should be happy with the ever detoriating infrastructure !!

  34. One thing we bengalis are also good at is ranting, but this gift of self-deprecation is something rarely seen. However this article does not ring home any truth,is a superficial attempt at attributing blame and above all sounds like a probashi bangali trying to find pillars to carry the burden of his frustration – and in your case it always turns out to be the “thinking bengali intellectual – as symbolised by the JU, Presidency r chhatro ar jibonmukhi gaan er bhokto”.Isn’t that too cliched? Suggest something Arnab, what can the average Tom on the street do – can he do something to change Calcutta. Lots of people read ur blog, and I do hope some of them do more than reading your blog and having a good laugh. I thought the movie reviews were good enough for that.

  35. As usual an excellent and introspective post.

    @A,

    The average Tom in the street can do little except remember what Mamata did when it comes time to vote. Arnab’s anger against the intellectuals is justified because it is precisely these people who will be the first to forget. I am wrong. Why should they even forget? For them what Mamata has accomplished is a glorious victory, a knock-in-the-face for CPM and the Parsee capitalist. They themselves always have the power to move out of Bengal and look after their own economic well-being. The people in Singur and elsewhere however do not have the luxury.

  36. @ Thalassa : “The woman represents the worst ills of Bengali society – headstrong, parochial, resistant to change, and the nastiest kind of attention whorism.

    Absolutely !!! Very well said.

    @ Souva :
    Correct!!! Majority certainly is not always right. That’s why a vast majority of Bengal’s population is still putting up with Mamata’s publicity-whoring idiosyncracies. This is just NOT right. It’s high time people started reacting and she be either exiled

    [edited]

    [GB adds: Edited this part out as this is slightly more extreme a prescription than the blog allows. The anger is however empathized with.]

  37. Singur is a classic case of a power drunk government being challenged by a gimic loving vision less opposition. The loss, as usual, is entirely of the common man.

    There has been other cases of land acquisition in the state which have happened in the recent past and the JSW factory is a case in point. The Zone under ADDA (Asansol Durgapur Developmemt Authority)is another.In both these cases the acquisition was handled much more practically.But Singur is a tragedy and both Mamata and CPM are equally responsible for the devastating result.

    However, the TATAs lose nothing in the long run, as the land remains with them (even if 300acres is returned)as per the terms of lease signed. This is a piece of real estate with 2.5km frontage on NH2. Any one with a little knowledge of real estate will know that it is worth in gold.I won’t be surprised if the Tatas come back after a couple of years with a real estate project and make a killing out of it.After all , this is not a land located in some fringe tribal belt with amenities being far off.

    So once again, it is the man on the street who lost due to the bull headed stupidity of politicians.

  38. The woman represents the worst ills of Bengali society – headstrong, parochial, resistant to change, and the nastiest kind of attention whorism.

    agreed. and well said.

    i think bengalis work well when they are with other people: tamils, gults, punjabis, kannadigas, anglo-saxons, (marathis?)… but when they are with other fellow bengalis degeneration is only a matter of time … one solution might be to sprinkle non-bengalis in good measure all over bengal.

    has mamata changed her name to mamata khatoon?

  39. Sorry GB,remove the to be moderated comment,
    but that woman is going for a victory march at Singoor today,
    How can one keep one’s head after something like that.
    She plans to rise from Bengal’s ashes.Tatas are leaving and that woman is sending our state to doom,and we should keep our heads?

  40. This is indeed the saddest time in my life and still you made me smile, thanks GB.

    ROTFL @ “This is banglaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

    Nice dig. How wrong was I to think that you watched only crappy Indian movies!

    But seriously, people like us who live outside WB and harbour the faintest hopes of returning one day, – our hopes are dashed for good. I am thinking of selling my flat at Kolkata; – thatway the last ties will also be over.

  41. This is very much off the topic but still i wanted to quote it here…

    The Continuing Ganguly Saga
    09 Sep 2008
    by
    Mina Anand

    This is a tale – unfinished so far
    Of a fiery cricketer – a lode star

    An attacking player… with elegance to match
    India’s most successful Captain – and in the 10,000 (ODI) runs batch

    For a man who has done so much for Indian cricket
    Isn’t it bizarre he’s always on a sticky wicket

    For a cricketer who has plundered 18,000 runs (Test and one-day combined)
    Not to mention the 22 one-day tons

    It’s ironical that he has to fight his way back
    Battle the odds and ignore the flak

    This story has had many twists and turns
    But ‘Dada’ keeps his end up – the fire fiercely burns

    Let’s now take guard and take stock
    The ‘hitherto’ Ganguly Saga’ lets unlock

    We’ll examine the issues – such as they are
    What the critics fall back on, in trying to pull down this star

    ‘Dalmiya’s man’ – he was dubbed
    Shouldn’t he with Sachin, Sanath, Inzy – be clubbed? (10,000-ODI-Runs Select Club)

    His place was assured in the team – they say
    Thanks to his ‘Godfather’ – come what may

    Then – may I ask the public this
    Whose are the runs – Dalmiya’s or his?

    Some other ‘crimes’ – charged to his name
    Shows dissent – slows down the game

    Unfit – fakes injuries – late for the toss
    Lazy – princely – ask Freddie Flintoff!

    Some tag the word ‘Parochial’ to him
    Ironical that memories can be so dim

    Wasn’t it Ganguly – the ‘new broom’
    (Who swept away zonal politics)
    Exciting ‘Indian’ talent he did groom

    Talent that he picked and backed
    A ‘fighting spirit’ in the team was packed

    He turned the Indian team around
    Battle it out- stand your ground!

    This took Indian cricket to new heights
    Putting up some of the great fights
    (Remember Eden Gardens…Barbados…Headingley…Adelaide…Chennai…Lords-NatWest?)

    Won matches at home and away
    Won accolades for the way we play

    Then there’s the talk about ‘green tops’
    Facing fast bowling Ganguly ‘hops’?

    From the quicks he shys away
    Then how on earth did he flay

    The opening bowlers in the one-day game
    Dispatching them – on his way to fame

    Some more chat – that he detests
    ‘Chin Music’ in the Tests

    May I refer all – to the Brisbane Test
    The Aussie quicks at their furious best

    ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Little Master’ fell
    Sounding for the tour – a ‘death knell’?

    But out came striding the Captain bold
    Unleashed his repertoire manifold

    Leading from the front – at Brisbane
    Treating the Aussies – with disdain

    Thus at the ‘Gabba’ – of bounce and pace
    Ganguly – to a ‘setting-the-tone’ century did race

    From the ‘Brisbane heights’ to the ‘Chappell era lows’
    The Prince has stoically taken many blows

    No ‘fair-weather’ friends – his legion of fans
    They believe in him – he vindicates their stance

    Experience, resolve – and the ‘Ganguly’ knack
    Was behind the dramatic 2006-7 comeback

    Sachin-Ganguly-Dravid-Laxman-Kumble – our Magical Five
    Contrary to ‘death-knells’ – they are still very much alive

    Currently the ‘Fab Four’ may not be at their batting best
    All credit to a tre’mendis’ display by Sri Lanka in the Tests

    But if old Hayden and Hussey and Sanath are still around
    Why should our ‘younger’ ‘Seniors’ not stand their ground? (didn’t Leander Paes?)

    ‘Out of form’ – is how we dismiss and dispatch
    Don’t all great batsmen go through a rough patch? (Ponting is still around)

    The press doesn’t often bother to tell all
    In the minds of the greats – Ganguly stands tall

    Ask Gavaskar, Boycott, Bhogle – to name a few
    His county (Glamorgan) also gives him his due

    “An outstanding professional” – was the Glamorgan call
    He’s as committed as the ‘Wall’

    Not for power – or for pelf
    It’s cricket that spurs him on – improving himself

    At ‘sixes and sevens’ – but not for long
    At ‘sixes and fours’ – is where he still belongs

    There are few better sights than the southpaw’s grace
    “God of the off-side” – is how he stays!

  42. I feel for Bengali people. They are paying for the sins committed by Communists. They fished in troubled waters when Medha was spearheading agitation against Sardar Sarovar in Gujarat. Well guess what, communists have found their own Medha in Mamta. Communists have put every roadblock they can in India’s industrial, financial sector, labor and social reforms. Well, theory of Karma has come to haunt them now. Good luck.

  43. bsin

    But seriously, people like us who live outside WB and harbour the faintest hopes of returning one day, – our hopes are dashed for good. I am thinking of selling my flat at Kolkata; – thatway the last ties will also be over.

    spoken like a good opportunist. can we buy parents in the shopping mall? choice?

  44. GB, fantastic post, I guess when one is really is stoked, the humor is that much better.
    Couple of points
    1. A little bit of schadenfreude about CPM’s predicament. As you sow, so you reap.
    As with any ideological issue, there is always someone crazier than you and can pull the rug under your feet. I worry about the next iteration of Left, which could involve distributing a few little red books.
    2. Sad that Tata had to leave the place but sadder will be a few intrepid entrepreneurs who had stretched themselves to upgrade their business expecting a huge customer base of factory workers and their families. These jobs are not for the highly educated but the non-educated people.
    3. Whats wrong with Derek O’Brien? I thought he was a smart guy, why is he with the Trinamool outfit?

  45. What happens now to the farmers who sold (/got compensated for) their land? They give the money back? And their land becomes cultivable again, after TATAs have removed the sheds/permanent structures and gone?

  46. The problem in Singur, as I have mentioned in my blog , is that industrialization has been attempted without any respect for the right to private property. Having the government steal people’s land and hand it over to the Tata Group is not about capitalisim – it is one more example of a dirigiste state picking winners. If the Tatas had negotiated with individual land owners and purchased their land, Mamata’s agitation would have not had popular resonance – in fact the willing sellers of land would have forced her to withdraw her agitation. And if the WB government felt it needs to give a subsidy to the Tatas to get them to take the risk of investing in West Bengal, it should have given them a capital grant (or increased the size of the interest free loan they are giving in any case)

  47. Great post, as usual, but the happenings make me wonder… do the bloggers and blog readers really have any power? Or for that matter, majority of the literate population of Bengal? How could we let this happen?

    As a small aside, the character from Agantuk is Manomohon Mitra, played by Utpal Dutta.

  48. Street-activism , which used to be a glorios past time of Kolkata’s “biplobi aantels” , has now been exported to the subalterns of the rural countryside.

    Why is the legislative assembly at all required or the elections?

    Issues can now be decided on the roads.

  49. Unknown Indian – Agreed that there shouldn’t be development by fiat. I have my own reservations about this land acquisition by state on behalf of private entities. But please tell me how else you propose to convert agricultural land to industrial uses under our current legal framework? Our options are fairly limited here.

    And your analysis would be spot on but for the fact that at the forefront of the demonstrations were not the land owners themselves, but their sharecropping tenants and agricultural labour.

    Given the meagre returns from agriculture for land owners and the lack of any flexibility with regard to how they can organize their production (langol jaar jomi taar and all that), land owners are more than happy to sell out when a buyer comes along.

    As far as I know, this was the case in Singur as well. How many of those agitating and demonstrating on the streets were local residents? I suspect not too many.

    God, the spirit of Dr. BC Roy weeps. What a parade of worthless politicians we’ve had since he dominated the political landscape of the state. There’s a special place in hell reserved for the likes of Sidhartha Shankar Ray, Jyoti Basu and Mamata Banerjee.

  50. No, no, methinks you’ve got your funding sources mixed up. Here’s a guide-

    1. CPI-M – USSR
    2. Maoists – China

    Didn’t you read about the Mitrokhin archives?

    As for Mamata-di, entirely possible that some business entity that hopes to buy out Tata for cheap is funding her.

  51. So funny to see the host of bong commentators shouting atop their rooftops against Mamta. The so called bong intellectuals who can’t do nothing except being atheist and ‘pro market’ left-liberal in a weird way after studying in a Rs. 380 per year govt engineering college. The situation is created by CPIM. Mamta is only using their weapons now. The solution is, as always, lies with the government (if you kindly know how the Indian system works). But the government won’t do it for loosing the votes in the next election. Tata factory is just nothing compared to the job losses in Bengal due to left trade unions supported by government for the last three decades – that includes even metro wholesale market yesterday. Open your eyes guys, don’t expect a radically leftist government to take pro-market policies. Go for a genuine right-of-center party to change something and encourage others to vote. It won’t change Bengal overnight. But it has the power of rebuilding it step by step that was destroyed over the last generation.

  52. unknown indian
    The problem in Singur, as I have mentioned in my blog , is that industrialization has been attempted without any respect for the right to private property. Having the government steal people’s land and hand it over to the Tata Group is not about capitalisim – it is one more example of a dirigiste state picking winners.

    dirigiste state picking winners is rampant in India. some states know how to do this well; some habitual dissenter arseholes cannot see the big picture and engage in extreme ad hominem arguments (read violence). some others are content with playing writing-writing. i remember some ‘intellectuals’ who prospered by taking the kolkata-delhi academic route (but did nothing to improve the academic environment in WB) said the land-owners will now be the ‘wage slaves’ of the Tatas. Yes, all employees of TISS, TIFR, IISc, Tata Memorial Hospital are ‘wage slaves.’ Chomsky – seeing the world through his palestine lens – signed the letter and happily drew the connection between nandigram and Iran (Aii-raan). such insight!

    ==============
    2,800 acres acquired peacefully in TN
    1 Sep 2008, 0144 hrs IST, Jayaraj Sivan,TNN

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/2800_acres_acquired_peacefully_in_TN/rssarticleshow/3429390.cms
    ==============

    If the issue is about private property rights, why haven’t the Arundhati Roy types brought it up? because that’s the ‘right’ position. “land is not only property, it is livelihood,” Medha Patkar has declared. and this brings in the landless laborers and the naxalites and maoists enter the stage. these regressive types want a freeze on the livelihoods. my follow-up question to these people: “which century, madam, is your choice?” do you want the livelihoods to look like those of 1000 b.c. or the 12th century or early 1800s> Please let us know what you would prefer. the agitators are at your service. pick your century.

    Neither the politicians nor the self-styled activists want private property rights. because if you want to move to a Hernando de Soto style legal document based land rights, there’s no scope for the politicians to make a living out of their ‘letting industry flourish’ campaigns; there’s no scope for the activists to make noise about the poor landless farmers, for whom they cry every night.

    Thalassa

    As far as I know, this was the case in Singur as well. How many of those agitating and demonstrating on the streets were local residents? I suspect not too many.

    http://www.indianexpress.com/story_print.php?storyid=356651

    Upstaging Mamata’s drama: Tata institute graduate, Ford Foundation & JP, The Socialist
    Posted online: Sep 03, 2008 at 0159 hrs
    Subrata Nagchoudhury & Bidyut Roy

    Kolkata, September 2 : Why is Mamata Banerjee so inflexible in her opposition to the Tata project? If one answer lies in her playing opposition politics, another has to do with the 21 groups which have jumped onto her stage.

    Called the People’s Secular Democratic Front, this alliance, The Indian Express has found, is a group of parties with little presence in the state, NGOs and Naxalite groups with agendas that couldn’t have been more dissimilar.

    This cast of characters seems to have walked out a Left-inspired script: one is into sanitation, one is headed by a graduate of, ironically, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences who was once funded by the Ford Foundation, another works on adult education, one monitors “electoral malpractices.”

    These groups brings two strands together: a strong anti-industry line — which Mamata doesn’t — and an ardent anti-CPM stand which plays right into Mamata’s identity. Naxalites and former Naxalites walk in and out of these NGOs both as members and supporters. Some of the “political” groups don’t even have an office, one claims the support of 700 people across the state, another got barely 100 votes in the Hind Motors union elections. These groups joined Mamata in Nandigram and scenting success there — the government abandoned its SEZ plan — they are now emboldened in Singur.

    Because they don’t have to face voters, they have taken a hard line. So much so that as there’s talk of “mediation” in the air, they have come out to say they will continue the agitation even if Mamata backs out.

    The principal characters:

    Paschim Banga Khet Majur Samity: This NGO held up bus loads of engineers and staff working at the Nano site on August 28 and it was after their threats of intimidation that Tatas decided to stop sending staff to the plant. It’s headed by Anuradha Talwar, 49, a graduate of Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Her husband Swapan Ganguly is secretary of the organisation.

    Talwar and Ganguly established an NGO Gana Samhati Kendra in 1984 in Badu, North 24 Parganas. Talwar says that with funding from the Ford Foundation, they ran a project on healthcare and sanitation in villages. In 1987, they established the Khet Majur Samity, a trade union body, which they claim has no political affiliation.

    The Samity monitored NREG progress in the state and exposed failures in its implementation. Today, the NGO runs an 11-acre “collective farm” and claims it is funded by collections from locals and donations. Eight acres are used for farming — which Talwar says sustains the residents — and three acres is for homestead. An estimated 115 locals live here, eating out of a mass kitchen that runs throughout the year.

    “Industry is more powerful than agriculture,” says Talwar. “So agriculture and industry cannot sustain simultaneously. Industry always destroys agriculture. Industrial pollution will engulf agricultural land. So we are fighting to save agriculture from the Tata Motors plant in Singur.”

    Clearly, Mamata has raised no such objections but Talwar is beside her at every public function and openly claims that Mamata asks her for advice on all matters involving the Tata project.

    Gana Mukti Parishad: An NGO headed by Sunanda Sanyal, a former professor who fell out of CPM’s favour, this group has exposed fake electoral lists. Former Secretary of the state Land Reforms Department Debabrata Banerjee is also associated with this NGO. Sanyal found in the Singur campaign a visible forum to take on the CPM and rushed in. During the last elections, he had actively campaigned for having NGOs as observers. Asked about his funding, Sanyal said: “We get donations from friends.”

    National Alliance of Peoples Movement: Medha Patkar’s group has made repeated trips to Singur and Nandigram attacking farmland acquisition for industry. Initially, Patkar had her own programme but during the current phase of the agitation, she now shares the stage with Mamata and works in tandem with Talwar’s NGO. After Narmada, the NAPM has identified imperialism and globalisation as its enemies.

    Samhati Udyog: An alliance of no less than 10 organizations, including the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), NAPM, Khet Mazdoor Samiti, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, Nari Atyachar Virodhi Manch, Ganapratirodh Mancha and the Bandi Mukti Committee. It was its secretary Samar Das, a former Naxalite, who began the first “survey” in Singur in June 2006 on the status of landlosers. His survey forms the basis of Mamata’s arguments but she fell out with him after the state government called him for direct talks. “Even if Mamata Banerjee opts out of the agitation, we will continue it,” he says. Samhati Udyog was also involved in Nandigram and claims to be working on rights of sharecroppers, minimum wage and distribution of pattas.

    When asked about his sources of funding, Das declined to comment.

    Group For Rural Alternative Movement: Barely a year old, its secretary Mintu Dey says that all members are “Naxal-minded persons” from around Jadavpur University. The NGO was formed specifically to organise and support the farmers’ agitation in Singur.”There is no question of a compromise regarding Singur. If Tatas leave, so be it,” said Mintu Dey. Asked about his group’s funding, he said: “We get money from well-wishers and small collections from sympathizers.”

    Jana Sangharsha Samity: Set up during 1975 as part of Jayaprakash Narayan’s Nav Nirman movement, its single-point agenda today: socialism. Secretary Himanshu Mukherjee admits that the group has no “definitive” sphere of work. “We believe in socialism. Tatas should go back. That is the solution to all the problems in Singur,” he said.

    Belur Shramajibi Hospital: Another 25-year-old NGO, it set up a hospital in Belur, Howrah. Secretary A K Saha says the NGO takes care of the “health needs of the farmers of Singur.”

    “We collected money from local people and workers of Belur area to build the hospital. We are not bearing any cost of this makeshift stage in Singur. We run the organization with public collectons,” said Saha.

    Naxalite groups: Four Naxalite groups are part of the 21 of Mamata’s Singur alliance. One of them is the “CPI(ML)-state organising committee,” a breakway group of Kanu Sanyal’s CPI(ML). It comprises just three leaders who were expelled from the CPI(ML) after they joined Mamata’s agitation in December 2006: Pradip Banerjee, Purnendu Bose and Dola Sen. They claim to have 700 “followers” in the state.

    Bose became the convenor of Mamata’s People’s Secular Democratic Front. The CPIML (New Democracy)’s Singur unit is headd by Paltu Sen, a trade union leader based in Uttarpara in Hooghly district who got about 100 votes when he contested the Hind Motors trade union elections in 2007. The other party is CPIML (Jana Shakti) led by Alok Mukherjee based in Birbhum. He rarely comes to Kolkata. The party has no office or any public activity but has set up a camp in Singur.

    Another organisation is United Students Democratic Front which is a Naxalite faction. Mazdur Kranti Parishad is another Naxalite party with some presence in Hind Motors and some other factories in Belghoria, North 24 Parganas. Among other parties are the Indian Union of Muslim League, Janata Dal United, Samajwadi Party, Samata Dal. These parties have almost no presence in the state but each one has its own score to settle with the CPM. For example, the Samajwadi Party, ridiculed by the CPM for voting with the UPA in the trust vote, has found its platform to get back — in Singur.

  53. Arijit – thank you so much for posting this excellent article. It confirms everything that I had suspected about this rag-tag agitation.

    A very trivial question – Where in Bengal do they use the term “khet majur”? Certainly not in any part of Bardhaman that I’ve ever been to (that really isn’t saying anything, but still). The terms used in our village are “munish” and “bagaal”.

  54. I have always seen bengalis to be highly intellectual and wise people. Wonder why they like commies so much there. May be bengalis will eventually throw them out. Only 2 people should be in politics in Bengal – SOurav ganguly and Mithunda; Sorav ganguly will infact make a gr8 PM. He’s very patriootic.

  55. @shouri and GB: I am seriously considering fund raising for anyone that will politically weaken trinamool in the state elections. Who wants to start helping me lobby Bengali industrialists in the us?

  56. I finally had to comment on your blog!! I have been a silent reader since quite sometime but now since you brought up the topic of Ms “Bandh”opadhyay, I have to break my “mawn vrat”. Give her a break, man!! We need her in America so we poor grad students will have a few breaks in addition to 3 day looooooooooong weekend vacations and people in Bengal can have their much deserved chance to work for 22 days of the month instead of 11 or 15.

  57. although i am sick of this general topic, enjoyed the 300 touch very much….you do link elements of popular culture beautifully!

  58. Thalassa

    A very trivial question – Where in Bengal do they use the term “khet majur”? Certainly not in any part of Bardhaman that I’ve ever been to (that really isn’t saying anything, but still). The terms used in our village are “munish” and “bagaal”.

    i would also like to know the meaning of bhagchashi, bargadar, jotdar, khetmajur… the more we know the less the politicians can hoodwink us all.

  59. There is “amma” in tamil nadu. surely “didi” and “amma” can have a nice daughter mother chat on how to run a state. if she proves to be a problem child,some nice old cane therapy on the rear end would definitely help put things in perspective. seriously, the future for bengal looks bleak at best while the other states race ahead.

  60. It is indeed sad that Tata has had to opt for the pullout. It is sad not just for Bengal, but for India as a whole. While farmer concerns must be addressed and solved, political wrangling must not be able to hold ransom the fate of a huge industrial project.

    I do believe that the farmers were within their rights to object, but the kind of marshalling of opposition that we witnessed was clearly aimed for purely political reasons and that is something which is plainly wrong. Mamta Banerjee has jeopardized Brand Bengal (and by extension Brand India) by playing an extremely shallow game of politics and by being extremely inflexible.

    Like Ratan Tata remarked in the press conference that “When you hold a gun to my head, my head will never move. Either you remove the gun or you pull the trigger. Miss Banerjee has pulled the trigger” …. Couldn’t have put it more poetically myself!

  61. heard this one recently:

    Mamata bollo ‘Korte debo na’,
    Buddha jigaye – ‘Kano’?,
    Mamata boley ‘Etao bojho na? ,
    - chhotto tomar Nano’ ! :)

  62. why were the tatas in such a hurry to pull out?
    the opposition they faced were largely peaceful road blocks which would have died after some time. after all the only people who were killed/injured were the locals. there is more violence and intimidation in gurgaon noida maharashtra and other states.
    did tata want an alibi for delays / escalation in the nano project?
    whatever it was it was the people of bengal that got screwed, but by who?

  63. pl. read the line as
    ‘there is more violencem corruption and intimidation in gurgaon noida maharashtra and other places.’

  64. @mamatamoyee.
    no ma’am, i am not interested in WB ‘politeeks’ at all. But am i the only one thinking that Rattanbabu (sorry Rattanbhai) is protesting too much? All i am saying is that we should keep questioning these things and not join up in lynch mobs.

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